Al-Qaeda threat to Denmark on the wane

Terrorists may not have forgotten about the Muhammad drawings, but Denmark seems to have fallen down al-Qaeda’s priority list

As the United States warns its citizens to leave Yemen immediately and shutters embassies and consulates in various parts of North Africa and the Middle East in the face of new terror threats, the threat closer to home is on the decline, experts contend.

The Muhammad drawings have been moved down on al-Qaeda's priority list and Denmark was not mentioned in the global terror warning that the US State Department issued a few days ago that maintained that a “plot was underway”. Overall, security experts say that as time passes Denmark becomes less of a terrorist priority. 

“Denmark is no longer a terror target to the same degree as earlier,” Lorenzo Vidino, a renowned terror and al-Qaeda expert, told Information newspaper. “It’s been quite some time since I have seen al-Qaeda refer to the Muhammad drawings.”

Magnus Ranstorp, a professor of international terrorism at Forsvarshögskolan in Stockholm, made a similar analysis of the threat to Denmark, but stressed that the threat continues to exist.

“Denmark is not nearly as much of an obvious target as it previously was," Ranstorp said to Information. "Denmark still appeals to al-Qaeda as a target and an attack on Denmark would immediately be registered as revenge for the drawings, but other issues have taken precedence in their agenda.” 

Both experts point to the US as the terrorist’s prime enemy, but said that the war in Syria is also playing an important role.

The suspected increase in terrorism activity has prompted the US to close down embassies and consulates in more than 20 countries, and the UK, France and Germany quickly followed suit. Even Norway closed its embassy in Saudi Arabia to the public yesterday.

The Danish intelligence agency, PET, agreed that the Muhammad drawings still motivates terrorists but the agency is monitoring developments closely and has not seen enough reason to change the threat levels against Danish targets. Government officials are also unaware of any imminent and specific threats. 

“We haven’t planned any extraordinary closures of embassies. We are following the situation closely and are in continuous contact with the Nordic countries and the EU,” Ole Egberg Mikkelsen, the head of the Foreign Ministry’s civil service and communications, told Jyllands-Posten newspaper.

The Foreign Ministry has advised all travellers from going to Yemen, and made similar warnings about visiting Saudi Arabia.

Mikkelsen did warn that Danish travellers could still face a heightened security risk.

“If you travel, it is a good idea to register and follow the travel guidelines,” Mikkelsen said.

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